Letters from the desert

 

Dear friend,

I hope you are doing well, I am doing just fine and this is my story. I am an Emirati from Dubai and I was born here. “This is the best place in the world to be young! The government pays for your education up to PhD level. You get given a free house when you get married. You get free healthcare, and if it’s not good enough here, they pay for you to go abroad. You don’t even have to pay for your phone calls. Almost everyone has a maid, a nanny, and a driver. And we never pay any taxes. Don’t you wish you were Emirati?« 

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Dear friend,

I hope you are doing well, I am doing just fine and this is my story. My ancestors were the first ones to arrive on this land and since then we all have been living here. My grandfather is one of the founding father of the United Arab Emirates and one day, like my dad currently, I will be the father of this people. A long time ago, my ancestors arrived on this deserted land, riding camels and having dates and milk as for meal…And now you should come and see, the emirates, come and see Dubai. It is indeed impressive. We did struggle in the past to transform this ungrateful land into some kind of a paradise. We would trade pearls, seafood, anything that could help us survive and thrive. Allah the Merciful had pity and provided oil for the emirates to move even forward.

Dubai used whatever money she had and she reinvested every dime into real estate, infrastructures, doping the trade and the tourism. We have turned into one key trading platform in the east and a hub for the air traffic. We have one of the finest hotels in the world, the only 7 star restaurants and above standard malls. My fathers brought water, here in the desert, then they brought the snow and now we can ski the whole year long. They built roads and designed the cities, coming up with optimal cadastral plans. They brought islands to surface and built unique skyscrapers, as you will never see anywhere in the world. They revived Atlantis, the lost kingdom and you can now sleep at the bottom of the ocean with sharks and dolphins as companions. The Burj-al-khalifa is our pride, the burj-al-arab, an architectural marvel. The sea is blue and you will never found a single dust in it. Public transportation is reliable, and the bus stops have also get air conditioner to survive the naturally unfriendly weather of Dubai. Our brothers in Abu Dhabi have even built one of the most beautiful and magnificent religious temple in the world: Sheik Zayed mosque, the one named after the founding father who changed the destiny of a people.

I am Hamdane Al Maktoum and my father is the ruler of Dubai. I have studied both in the emirates and the United Kingdom. I am the crown prince and one day, I will be ruling over this entire land and continuing the work of my father and of my father’s father, diversifying our economy away from oil so as to survive. I dream I will be able to walk into the footstep of my fathers and bring even more comfort and richness to this country I love while maintaining the peace, and happiness in the heart of the people, in the name of Allah and by His only grace.

I read sometimes foreign articles talking about how fake our country is, about what is awaiting us and what we will suffer in the future and I wonder what they see is fake. The walls of the towers are not made out of paper. The vessels of our trade are not mere pirogues and the financial empires our people are building do not make less sense compared to the Occidental ones. Yes, we went through a though crisis a couple of years ago and we might have gone bankrupt if it weren’t for our oil-rich neighbours, but those things happen and the West should know it even better than us. They say we defy Mother Nature more than we should, that we are throwing money out by the window with all our fancy and useless real estate projects; that we are digging our own graves by over-pampering our illiterate people; that this is our strategy so they shall worship us and forget to mind about how tyrannical we are in reality; that we are eventually not sustainable and will surely crash.

There are so many things being said on Dubai. Well, what did the world expected? Yes, we are pampering our people, they deserve it, they are the very reason why we are working this much. We are one of the freest and most peaceful states in the entire Arabic peninsula. We welcome all strangers and wish for them to settle in the creek and enjoy themselves without fear of retribution. As a matter of fact the great majority of the people here in Dubai are not Emiratis. We are a minority in our own state. How can someone even say we are not opened? We despise crimes under any form. Robbery, treachery, murders and any other immoral stances is heavily punished and will be heavily punished in the future. If this is being tyrannical, well we might as well be called so. We do not wish to be a mere replica of the Occident. We want to be better. So we shall always harshly tackle all those quirks of the spirit which rotten minds and deplete nations.

Yes, we are defying Mother Nature. What? Were we supposed to accept our fate and silently cope with what She had to offer to us, sand and rocks? No, we did not. And we will not in the future. We do know we must find a way to stay at the top and we are already working on it, we had always been working on it, ever since my grandfather Rachid el Maktoum founded with Cheikh Zayed and Cie the Emirates. I, too, when my time will come shall spend all my effort on it.

I cannot predict the future indeed, but what is for sure is that we will never go back to riding camels and eating dates and milk to nurture ourselves. This is and will stay the past forever. We will keep on fighting against Nature, harshly if need be. And Hamdoullah, we will certainly prevail.

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Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing well, I am doing just fine and this is my story. I am from France and I landed into the creek decades ago. I arrived to realize my dream, to revive Atlantis, you know, the lost kingdom.

I studied here in France and attended the best school of engineer. I learnt whatever needed to be learnt to perform in the field of infrastructure and lead construction projects. So, when my company won the bid on that project and my manager called and told me I would have to go to Dubai, I felt that was the opportunity for me to prove the world what I was worth. Soon, I would have my mark standing high in one of the trendiest place to be worldwide. My wife was sad to leave her family and friends but she already hated her work here in France so it was ok. I left first. She would follow me later on, after she would have taken care of all the packaging and shipping of our stuffs.

I arrived in Dubai and got immediately grasp by the humidity and the high temperature. I was told a car would be waiting to drive me to my hotel and spent a high time trying to interact with people at the airport. I bumped into that big guy from Senegal who had already been living in Dubai for a long time and was able to express himself in Arabic. He helped me and we exchanged our contacts. I don’t know exactly what he was doing in Dubai but I called him the following week as I was feeling desperately lonely in this beautiful country where I knew no one, and we had a drink. He shared with me some hint and tips about the place and I thought it could be useful to have someone like him around. I offered him a salary to become my jack-of-all-trades and we started hanging out together. My wife arrived and we would sometimes meet up, the four of us, my wife, him, his girlfriend “the duchess” – I guess, for her haughty ways – and me. We would have a lot of fun sometimes indeed, shopping, playing golf and horse riding.

But then the Atlantis project got to an end and we had to go back to Europe. I quit of course. Who would ever want to leave a place where he has a chauffeur, a cook, a nanny and a housemaid and where he spends his time organizing garden parties with the other European expatriates?

I had enough money anyway to start something by myself, plus the loan I got from the bank, I mounted a small business…which went bankrupt a couple of years ago. Then the nightmare started as “bankruptcy” did and still does not exist in Dubai dictionary, especially regarding foreigners. Either you can pay and everything is perfect, or you cannot and then it is a much serious issue. They came and took everything we had: our cars, our house, absolutely everything. They sent me to jail and confiscated our passports so we would not leave the country without paying what we owed. My wife almost went completely crazy. She called that wealthy friend of hers in France who ultimately managed to write off our debt. We were then kicked out of the country and landed back in France. Just like that.

It’s been years since that day when we arrived at Charles de Gaulle, completely disoriented, and we still think there is something unreal in this story of ours. Our life in Dubai was just a dream or is it our life since we came back: it has to be one or another. It is not possible for both of those lives to be sound and connected. It makes absolutely no sense. It cannot have happened to us. It is just not possible indeed.

I found a work to reimbursed my ex-wife’s friend and I still can’t believe that it is possible to go from heaven to hell without any notice. Was it 20 years ago when I ran after the mirage of the desert, the mirage of greatness standing in the form of skyscrapers and gigantic shopping malls, and SUVs and housemaids? I can’t tell it anymore. Since I came back to France, I lost complete track of the time and of my life. Dubai has the beauty of the devil. Indeed, still waters do run deep.

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Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing well, I am doing just fine and this is my story. I am from Senegal. I left a century ago in search of a better life and I ended up here in Dubai. At first, I did a lot of stuff and managed to survive wheeling and dealing all year long. Then the father of this nation came up with that big infrastructure project and hired the best professionals in the world to work on it. I met that French engineer when I was at the airport, coming back from my holidays in Dakar. He was asking for direction and as he couldn’t speak Arabic, he was having a hard time interacting with people and started cursing in French. Today, I can thank the Gods for French happens to be the official language in Senegal.

I could hear exactly what he was saying and faithfully translate it in Arabic. He must have sensed how useful a personal right hand could be in an unknown environment. He came up with an offer and I became his jack-of-all-trades. I would do anything for him and he would pay me in dollars. He was rich, as would be most of the expatriates summoned by the Emirati government to defy Mother Nature and change the face of a desert. I was well-paid indeed. This is when my life actually kicked up. I rented a bigger flat, and saved enough money to start loading boats to West African harbours. Yes, the world is fond of that furniture, carpets, and other ornamental from the Orient. I guess this goes back far in time when merchants would come back to the west with vessels full of pearls and fabrics and exotic spices and perfumes. Not only is it trendy, but for Africa, it is also cheaper than whatever the Occident may ever offer.

A few years later, I was not exactly rich but I had enough money to live decently. They would even call me the “Emirati oil tycoon” back there in Dakar, where I would return for the December party season as I would spend more money than most of them would ever see in their entire life. But of course, I was not an Emirati. I could have lived a 1000 years in the Emirates; I still would not have been an Emirati. The only way to be an Emirati is to have it in your vein. Of course too, living in Dubai, I couldn’t really be into the oil business. Whoever understands a little bit the U.A.E knows that the oil-rich emirate is Abu Dhabi and not Dubai. Dubai is about tourism, trade and real estate. But indeed, I just couldn’t tell everyone that I was actually playing the dog by a little Frenchman side, right? It would have been terrible for my reputation, really.

One holiday, I came back from Senegal to see that the French guy had left the country in the rush. I felt sad, not that I was regretting the dude as he was nothing but mere entertainment to me, but I did regret the pay check as he would always pay well. I always wondered about those Occidental fellows, coming all the way from their hometown and taking this place easy just because it looked like a giant Disneyland. No country in the world is a joke and before settling somewhere you might as well carefully check wherever you put your feet in, instead of acting illegally and complaining later about the drawbacks. I heard something like that happened to my engineer, he thought Dubai was a joke. He thought wrong.

It wasn’t a big deal though since I was getting more and more involved into the trade with Africa and I barely had the time for anything else. I had under my orders Africans from all horizons and with all kind of situations. I even got enough money to buy some flats and rent it to some undocumented immigrants who otherwise could have never been able to find a place to live.

I met that girl from Ethiopia, a night when I was going to a club with other friends from Africa. You should have seen her. She was the most beautiful girl of the entire room. She was like a lotus flower, standing clean in the middle of dirt. I did what I had to do and we started dating. She ultimately came and lived in my condo. She was my queen indeed, the duchess. I would give her whatever she wants and she would take it all and even more. But then, my sick mum called from Senegal, arguing that I had to get married. She already had the perfect wifey for me. She would die in short so she at least wanted to attend the wedding of her only son, there in Dakar, with the bride she had carefully chosen for him.

Walahe, my mum was all I had in my life…but I still couldn’t say anything to my Ethiopian girl. I shamefully sneaked to Senegal and married the one girl that my mum destined for me. You should have seen mommy that day. She is dead today but anytime I think about that face she made at my wedding, I can’t help but feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the one lady currently bearing my child. I came back to Dubai straight after and told the Ethiopian girl to leave. I know I hurt her. I was her rock and I let her down. Still, it was her fault too of course. Really, why would a human being put all his trust, love and energy in one only fellow? It makes no sense for me. A mature woman should not be this naïve and confident.

My mom was coming the following month with my pregnant wife and I really did not need the Ethiopian girl around. I offered her some money; I even paid her ticket to leave for Addis Ababa for a time, at least until my mum leave. She was stubborn to start with, but ultimately understood it all: I could not have married her in the first place anyway. She should have been aware of that. She was not Wolof, not even Senegalese, or at least Muslim, besides not madam enough for me. She finally left, even though the gloomy face of that witch she used to call her little sister is following me in the street every time it sees me, accusing me to have ruined the life of her relative. Funny, because the duchess was nothing before I offered to her a life she never could have hoped for: cars, trips, champagnes, jewels. The duchess was MY invention.

Love is nothing, just an ever-changing situation, passion cools and all the magic ends up fading away. Life is about balance not love or passion.

My dear mom died last year. My baby girl is one year old and my hardworking and respectable wife I will never get myself to love is pregnant for the 3rd time, after a miscarriage. Inch’allah this time, she will give me a son, the Senegalese Prince of the desert, who will someday take over the flourishing business of his dad and extend it. Work pays off, indeed, and blood, and toil and tears and sweat.

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Dear friend,

I hope you are doing well, I am doing just fine and this is my story. I am from Ethiopia and I am currently at Dubai international airport. I just met that girl from England who asked me why I was laughing out loud all by myself like a mad woman when I looked this healthy and sound. I told her I had to go back home and leave Dubai for good, for the sake of a love I used to have.

I arrived in Dubai a decade ago. Seems like an eternity already. I was afraid at the beginning, being alone and all, in this strange Muslim country which was not home and had nothing to do with it, in the desert where skyscrapers would grow like mushrooms and snow could fall 24/7 the whole year long.

I was afraid and really thought I could never make it. I just wasn’t prepared enough to what was coming next. I will spare to you the details, but God can testify: I struggled my dear, really. Yet, the truth is I did not believe in my inner strength from the beginning, I did not believe I could achieve anything by my own self.

I was not an engineer, not even Muslim or at least white skinned. I was a woman. A Christian, black and low educated African woman who could barely speak some words in English. Not to mention Arabic. I encountered him one day and I thought that God in His kindness had sent an angel that would care for me until the very end. For the first time in my life, I had some bearings: a dependable man, a roof over my head, daily food on my table and pocket money to shop. Not having to worry about my future, I learnt Arabic and my Senegalese love taught me the basic of the trade here in Dubai: buy stuff, load ships and send it wherever it was needed.

I had an advantage compared to a lot of other immigrates in the Emirates: I had my documents and the right to work and live in Dubai. So I would, in exchange of some money lend my identity to African business women in need. Everything was doing well, indeed. I managed to save some money and I used all of it to pay the flight for my sister to come and join me, so, she too could escape from the emptiness of the lives that would have awaited us, in some suburb of Addis Ababa.

I was so happy when I went to the airport to get my little sister as she was arriving to Dubai. I managed to get her documents out and I even found a job for her. Though we would argue sometimes, I always thought that whatever could happen, we would still have our back, sisters forever. That was my own foolish dream.

For a time, there was no traffic and I stopped charging boats to Ethiopia. I spent almost half a year with no cash entry except the one my love would kindly offer to me. But it was ok, I guess. I had a home, food and the clear conscience to have helped out my only sister to escape from poverty.

Then that punk went once on holidays back to his country. He returned completely different. He announced to me out of the blue, that I had to leave his house because he got married in Senegal and was in the process of flying his wife to Dubai so she could occupy her rightful place. Not only was he kicking me out of his life, but he also needed me to leave the country as I, or was it our memories, would have been a burden for the future of his love life. This was too much. I started being a laughing stock for all the African community: She who was playing the queen, she, the renowned “duchess” had been demoted.

I tried and gathered the remaining pieces of my pride and went to see my sister, confident in the fact that she would help me. I needed money to find myself a house and to start a business. That ungrateful bitch ditched me and bought a ticket to go on holidays to Ethiopia with the money she earned at the work I found for her when I changed her life and offered to her a brighter future here in Dubai. I was speechless.

My ex-angel was urging me to leave the country every single day and I thought it couldn’t be worst but then my sister, that sly fox kicked me out of her place because, she said and I quote: “My boyfriend said we need some privacy, sis. You know he is the one paying”. I only got myself to blame. I am the only one who walked naively through life as if it was some kind of joke. And it served me right.

I am at the airport now and heading back home to Ethiopia. My Senegalese savior paid the ticket. That is the least he could have done for me, in memory of all the years we shared together. Some of the girls I met in Dubai are scandalized. They say if they were me, they would never leave etc. But they are not me, and I cannot stand that town anymore, that town where I had it all and lost it all overnight. I am going back to Ethiopia. I might meet there the girl who once was my sister as she will be there for her holiday. And I swear to God that never, never again shall I suffer this kind of humiliation; the humiliation of the immigrants who left home and came back as broke and useless as he was in the first place.

Now my nature is indeed forged and I am made out of steel. To the girls who call me stupid because I am going back to hell without any security parachute, I can say this:

I am going back home, to lick my wounds. But I will rise up again, and that day, I pray for the bitches and the bastards who turned me into this bitter person to never encounter my way. I am leaving Dubai and now I know that man is a wolf to another man. So God, please protect me from my friends. There are just a few of them so it will be an easy task. I am taking care of my enemies.

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Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing well. I am doing just fine and this is my story. I arrived 7 years ago in Dubai on my way to Germany. Yes, I was not supposed to ever live here. All I was to do was a transit, which changed my life upside down.

I was born and raised in Cameroon. Whoever set feet in this land blessed by the Gods will tell you how far it is from heaven. I was born there, from a nice family, normal family. Though we were absolutely not rich, I don’t remember ever missing food on the table. I learnt to be a good wife, to take care of my future hubby and of my children to come. I was the perfect daughter and the perfect wifey to be. You can ask any of my relatives, they will tell you. I had no big dreams except to get my own family and cater for it, as soon as possible.

Then I met this guy and he changed my life. He made me forget all the promises I ever made and all the dreams I ever had. Thanks to him, I lost what I know now where the best years of my life. I got out of this relationship thinking so little of my own self that I could as well be dead. But still I was alive. All the more as I had this little treasure the Gods, in their mercy agreed to offer me: my little baby, my sunrise, my all, my baby girl.

I spent 2 years trying hard to take care of her and of myself, joggling between works, timetables, people, and lives. Until that very day when I completely broke and knew there was no way for me to keep on walking in this sadness and bitterness they call Cameroon. Heavyhearted, I decided to leave, for me, for my baby girl, for a better version of our own selves. I barely had enough in the pocket for my own trip and anyway could not go for an unknown world with a 3 year old little girl. I left her with my mum. I always despised the women who left their children behind them and always thought absolutely no reason could justify such an act. And there I was, staring at my daughter, knowing I would be away the following day, far away, in a place she could not come and meet me whenever she wanted.

The person who organized the trip said we were going to Germany. He also said that we will have to stop by Dubai according to our airline itinerary. When we arrived in Dubai, we stopped for a couple of hours and we were supposed to meet up after to catch the next flight. I was at our meeting point. He was not. My ticket and my passport neither. Long after the plane left, when I finally got my brain to understand that I got trapped, I just turned back, half amused half horrified and said: Assalam Alaikum Dubai.

Life in Dubai helped me discover how resourceful I was, me, who always only wished to love and to be loved in return, wished to be someone’s wife and someone’s mum. I was there alone in this Muslim country I had never heard about with no other option than survive. I laughed not to cry and to chase away the demons that were surrounding me, trying to make me drawn in that ocean of sadness i had been pushed in, I laughed so much it hurt my chest; I laughed and cursed the world, and the Gods who dared fight against me and entertain my misery. I laughed and started by changing my name, hoping Allah could be more merciful.

I found a way and started teaching French to an Imam’s daughters who was from Mauritania and needed his children to be able to interact with their relatives back home. Ok, I was in Dubai, I needed to get the most out of it, there was no point in crying on spilt water. Besides, I had to pay everyday a fine to the Emirati police for my illegal stay in the country. Every single day. I got to encounter a Senegalese who was working in the trade business. I learnt fast and started loading my own vessels for people in Cameroon. At the same time, I paid a Somali girl to help me with Arabic and in the process of regularizing my situation. I don’t know if she is even translating it the right way, I don’t understand what she is saying when talking to the Emirati administration. All I know is that it has been 7 years since I came to Dubai and I am still paying the Somali lady for her to translate. I am still paying the day by day taxes as well.

The Senegalese guy helped me rent a 12m2 studio, since I don’t have the necessary documents to rent anything in this country, and furnished it with 6 beds. I rent the beds to travellers and to other women who carry their own sad story into their eyes. Recently, there is that Ivorian lady who arrived from Libya, Ivory Coast and Germany. I hope life will treat her kind. Dubai is no joke for the poor. There is also that other one, who came all the way from Ethiopia and saved enough money to have her sister come too. She is the one who helps me when I load the vessels as she has her resident card and can therefore execute the trade in my name. And now, she is saying that she is going back home…

It has been 7 years since I last saw my daughter. I was not even there, the first time she went to high school. How I wish I could obtain my documents at last! I would fly back home, first thing, to see my baby and assess how tall she grew.

All I wished was to live the life of a housewife. Not much compared to the dreams of my classmates and cousins wishing to become dentists, engineers, and lawyers.

I eventually found out that Allah was no better than Jehovah so I switched back to my old surname. However you call me though, I shall turn round and respond to you. Because now I know: There is one God in this life of mine. And that is me.

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Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing well. I am doing just fine and this is my story. I arrived some weeks ago, craving for a fresh start. I was born in Ivory Coast, almost half a century ago now. Life has never been a piece of cake or was it the case a long time, a very long time ago? I just cannot remember anymore. As far as I can recall, I have always lived a damn hectic life, wheeling and dealing and hustling every single day, hoping someday, somehow the God I pray might finally hear me cry and answer my prayers.

I had this baby when I was not even old enough to take care of my own self. The baby father must have had urgent matters at hands ‘cause he spilled, I wonder if he even kissed me goodbye. On second thought I just fucking wished he would die. Then I looked at this baby girl and wished for her a brilliant future, a life I had never lived, an existence I have never known. And yet, my baby girl grew up just like me, in that jungle they call “little Paris” and turned up to be a cute little lady. I made up my mind and stop cheating myself: there was nothing to expect from this land I have always known.

A friend talked me into e-weddings and one rainy Saturday afternoon I entered for the first time of my life a cyber café. I met Karl. He was German; he was sweet and ready to marry me as long as I could provide a few thousand euros. What I did.

We were engaged in a commercial relationship in which I was buying a passport for heaven and he was selling that dream to me for a few thousands of euros. Those few thousands of euros I spent my entire life saving, those few thousands euros which meant everything for me. They were my beginning and my end, and I gave them to that guy, craving for a new life, a fresh start, a better life.

I managed to get to Germany with my little girl which was not so little anymore if not in this motherly mind of mine. We spent a couple of years, the three of us, the fakest couple on earth. But this was cheap money to pay, you know, compare to what I thought was awaiting us. Then my baby girl started going to school, university was next, you cannot imagine how proud I was when she finally got her resident card. You can only guess, indeed.

For the first time since I came to this planet earth, I felt like God was looking at me with kind eyes, whispering I will never be in pain again. But that was just what I thought, which had nothing to see with what was waiting for me ahead.

The German fellow fell for me. Deep in love, at least that is what he said. Fell head over heal for me and was ready to marry me, and pay me back my cash, but on the condition I had to separate from my daughter. God can testify. There are things I can do, and there are things I cannot do. I lived a crazy life indeed and almost never had any reason to
laugh out loud. I have been treated no better than an animal, lowered my head as far as to touch the floor and God knows all I would have done to change my life…but parting with my daughter was not one of these things. You know, I do not get along every day with my baby as she does not always understand all the sacrifices I did for her, went through to promise to her a brighter future. But God, How I love this little girl! She is the only treasure I ever had, my slice of peace on this damn earth which never has been kind to me.

He stopped everything, gave me back my euros and kicked me out. It wasn’t long before the police caught me and flew me back to Ivory Coast, with the shame of the expatriate who failed to make it. At least, my daughter was saved. I had not spent a year in that country of mine when the war started again. I packed all I had and found a way to escape. Anywhere would have been fine, and I ended up in Libya…Another country which turned into a battlefield…

It has been a month since I arrived in Dubai. Anyone who requests it can basically get a visa and land in the Emirates. I came with all I had, the only thing that accompanied me all through my journeys, my quest of dignity and humanity: my hope.

So there you have it, dear. I am still standing; looking success in the eye. I’ll never stop until I get what I feel is mine. I am not leaving this place, until I can look at my daughter’s father, look at my German husband-not-to-be, look at all the people I met in my life and who made me feel as though I was nothing but trash, look at them straight in the eye and say: I, too, am a human being.

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Dear Friend,

I hope you are doing well. I am doing just fine and this is my story. I am from England and I arrived in Dubai a couple of days ago. I have organized a trip around Asia and the Emirate is the first step. I flew business from Heathrow by Emirates Airlines and I must say it was the best flight I have ever experienced. The steward and stewardesses were just amazingly kind, open and available. I ate as much as I could, drank more than I should and had the most fun of my life inside a plane. I did not even find time to watch the television but was surprised to see that they even had an African music channel on board. It was indeed that kind of wonderful experience that turns the sky into the best place on earth.

I arrived in Dubai and was mesmerized by the skyscrapers, the unique architecture, the food from all over the world, the diversity of the people and the facility with which the persons interact with you and help you out. I felt for Dubai, for the comfort of their hotel rooms, the high standard of their malls and the various activities you can do. I went and visited the desert and lost my camera. A little vendor of souvenirs selling his stuffs at the hotel entrance helped me, and the next day, I had my camera back. I can assure you that it would have hardly been the case in Europe, where I live. They say crime is seriously punished there in the emirates so most people won’t even dare. Thanks Allah. I really felt I could indeed settle and found a family.

Then I met that friend of my mom, a Cameroonian lady and she invited me to her place. She was living inside a one 12 meter squares room apartment that she was renting to 5 other persons. She was undocumented and had not seen her little girl she left in Cameroon since almost a decade. She was sad and was only working to pay for her right to stay in Dubai. The other women of her room had their own sad story but I felt even more appalled by the unbelievable story of that Ethiopian girl who was abandoned by her sister and sent back to Ethiopia by her man who happened to marry another girl. Really, that was one sad story. They also told me that a lot of strangers were chased out of Dubai by charters and were not even considered as proper human being, that the Philippines ladies would join forces and block all access to work to other immigrants from different countries whenever they could. That little Indians and Pakistanis would come here, dazzled by the lights of Dubai and the words of a con artist promising a brighter future to them and a decent work,` but would end up turned into slaves, working on this big construction sites which are the pride, the jewels of the oasis. They told me that the laws here were written exclusively for the Emiratis and thus, that no one would ever dare to mess around
with them without fear of retribution. I learnt many other stories, sad stories, ugly stories and it made me snap back to reality. I finally acknowledged that Dubai was a country and not a playground. It looked nice really, it looked attractive, it looked brilliant. Still, I discovered that Dubai was a country and not heaven. And this made all the difference.

As I was driving my way back to the airport, leaving this place I really felt for despite all the stories I heard, I saw that guy on a big board, staring at me. He looked so handsome and cool and open minded. I was told he was the heir to the throne of Dubai. That someday, he would rule over more than 2 million people and lead their destiny. I heard he was fond of writing and that he was a brilliant jockey. I wondered if he was aware of the fact that a huge task was awaiting him and I really felt sorry for the boy who might not be a jockey in the future and might even someday forget how to write basic lines. I stared at him and started dreaming. And I wished I could someday meet him and get to read one of his poetry and wish him luck in the dreadful task to come.

I wished for him to offer an even brighter future to the creek but also to care a little for all the immigrants who dare leave their country, home, friends and family, wishing that Dubai would treat them a little kind.

I am at the airport now, and heading to south East Asia. I carry the image of the jewel of the desert in mind and now I know, that the will prevail and impossible is nothing.

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Those Who Bend and Those Who Break

Some roses blossom Scarlett

They say once upon a time in Arabia, roses were all white and nightingales could not sing. A moonless night, a nightingale passed by a white rose, a beautiful white rose and the moment it saw it, the bird felt head over heels in love with the flower. At that time, no one had ever heard nightingales sing. They would spend their entire lives silently; yet the love of the bird was so strong that a wonderful song came out of its throat and it surrounded the rose with its wings trying to hug the flower with passion….The nightingale hold the rose so wildly tight onto its chest that the thorns pierces/broke its heart. And it died, its wings draped around the flower. The blood of the nightingale stained the petals of the white rose. Since then, some roses blossom scarlet.

 

 

Blond

I am Scarlett and this is my confession

My asking for forgiveness, for redemption

The expression of my remorse

My only way to apologize without losing face

How i knock at heaven’s gate for my own sake

I am Scarlett O’hara and this is my story

The story of the mighty O’hara

Who stood stubborn in the desert

Waiting for the rain to fall;

Kept trying to catch the sun

When the craziest knows

How much it burns;

Who couldn’t find in this world happiness

Did not know precisely the meaning of kindness;

Clung onto that childhood dream

Where dear prince charming was blond.

I would have crushed Ashley

And broken him into pieces

He was full of ideas, I was full of life

I was down to earth, he was sitting on clouds

We were no fit; he was no match for me

And this was true from the very beginning

Him being him and me being me

Him only capable of being him, I, of being me;

But i had that childhood dream

And in my dream

Prince charming was blond.

Had i given it a try

It would have been different with Rhett

He was the shade and I was the light

We were bound by a link no one could break

Except me,

Which I did…;

But i had that childhood dream

And in my dream

Prince charming was blond.

Now listen up, open your ears

For this should be the very last time

Scarlett O’hara speaks her heart out

I note it here so I won’t say it loud

Scarlett O‘Hara does not apologize

– Neither regret, Nor write –

Still this is me, writing these words down

Words that so not sound like Scarlett O‘Hara:

I thought I loved the dashing Ashley

But married Captain Rhett the intrepid

Rhett loved me like crazy indeed

Still, till the end I did not manage to see

That my heart belonged to Him and to no one else

One does not love to breathe unless he misses air.

At my defense, I had that childhood dream

And in my dream

Prince charming was blond.

Blond as the winter wheat dancing in the air

Blond as the dazzling warming sun ray

Blond as a golden silky thread softly swaying

Blond as the stardust gone with the wind.

Yes, he was blond

Prince charming was definitely blond.

A rose without a thorn is not a rose

I was born to be a rose, an Irish rose

And I got stained hurting my loves

I was born to be a rose, the Irish rose

That got stained hurting her loves

A rose needs thorns to have charisma

The dog and the wolf: Words from an angry slave

Do you guys know the story of the dog and the wolf?

The dog lives a peaceful life in a cage as a slave by man side. In rewards, humans take care of it, almost as it, being part of the family. It definitely does not have to worry about tomorrow. Then, there is the wolf, which struggles every day for food and against danger. But the thing is, he is somehow freer: As free to live as to die.

Who do you believe is happier? Can you really tell it is better to be a dog than being a wolf? Well, I cannot. The only thing I can say is that a dog is not a wolf and vice versa. Any attempt to change their status should be thoroughly prepared. You cannot just take the chains off the dog and say: « From now on, go, you will be a wolf ».

That war was definitely not for us.

They would come all the way south to « set us free » while we do not remember asking them anything. That war had nothing to do with us. Don’t you ever try and convince me that in those white eyes we had ever been worth fighting for.

Would you better be a brainless and obedient child or some kind of independent monster?

That was the choice we had.

We could be the perfect Negroes for Dixie: Incapable narrow-minded good slaves, always agreeing, gently nodding our heads and proudly defending our masters, eternally grateful for the care we received and honored whenever being transferred from the farm to the house, eating well as tough we enjoyed our condition.

Or we could have been monsters for the North: Crazy beasts to unleash so they could, through us, take revenge on Dixie; men, free enough to be, free enough to work but with no chance of ever finding anything to do, nor any place to be.

Freedom was nowhere to be seen. Freedom was not an option. We just found ourselves stuck in the fight for a few acres of cotton.

Someone once said that there were two tragedies in life: One was not to be able to realize one’s dream; the other was to fulfill it. I strongly believe the tragedy lies in not being able to choose between both.

That war was a tragedy: as Dixie forced us once into slavery, embarrassment, poverty and hard work, the North forced us into freedom. It thus did come without the package: Recognition, orientation and a vision.

Freedom should be a road, a conscious choice of the slave to walk on a path he has chosen, aiming to reach somewhere. Our « freedom » had nothing such, no other goal than bothering our old masters.

Still, I always wondered how come our old masters believed so strong that we were proud of being slaves just because we smiled when saying « thanks ». I thought they would somehow be the best ones to understand the weight of chains as they too were some kind of slaves, slaves to conventions, though much freer than us.

Freedom is such an empty word: Mama Slave mourning

I feel the wind blowing through my door

It is telling me that the sun has gone

And the children sitting inside

Are waiting for me to leave the window side

Soon we will have to harvest in the farm

Though I doubt we’ll reap much this year

There are no men, no animals, and no rain

No money, no seed, no tools, no strength.

I am old and my bones are weak

And my son he was all I have

He has gone to fight for freedom

Leaving by the way with my heart

All my life I have loved this land

Worked it somehow freely with my hand

Now, can your freedom send the rain, now that seed is in the ground?

Can your freedom take good care of us, fill our stomachs and educate?

Can your freedom unchain our hearts and erase all memories of us slaves?

Can your freedom bring us to equality with our white fellows?

Can your freedom promise to our dying children a brighter future?

Can your freedom heal the pain and bring my son back to me again?

All days long, I would sit staring at the window

Waiting for my son to appear at the corner of the street

And walk the way down the hill to Tara

Walk the way down the hill to his mama

Every day the sun set on an empty road

And every night I stared at his bed still unfolded

Telling myself how much I truly loved this land

And somehow freely worked it with my hand

Wondering whether your freedom could cultivate cotton

Heal the wounds and bring my son back to me by dawn.

I dreamt one night that my son, he was calling me

He was alone in the dark

Lying in the snow in some remote place

His raged clothes stained and already gone red

Blood gently flowing, flowing on the snow

He was almost dead and knew not where he was

Almost dead though I guess still so not free.

That war was not a war for freedom.

That war was not a war for us.

Curtains closed: Words from a slave gone old

Dixie would never be same old Dixie again. I had that premonitory dream where my great great grandchildren were as freer as it can be, as freer as white people. They would not say « Madam this » and « Mister that », distorting their backbones forever, trying to humbly bend their head to the maximum. I had that dream of my descendants standing on both feet, entering universities, talking clever like white folks. They would dress smart, talk smart, and look smart with gentle manners. They would become full American citizens with full rights, teachers, pilots, movie actors, singers and why not presidents someday? They would rise, I am sure; as like us, slaves, they would have it in their DNA, the power to stand still, bear the unbearable and move forward.

I must admit that we had that in common with her too. A bold attitude towards society and life and the ability to always, always always keep on going on, stiffen up the upper lip and stand still in the storm.

This is because we know how to bend.

I am old already now and I do not hate her anymore for being the mistress she was. In the end, she was too pathetic to be hateful. Plus she paid the high price already. Whosoever sows the wind shall reap the whirlwind.

You remember that last lines when Rhett refused Scarlett’s love and packed his stuff to sail away while she, devastated, ran back to Tara? You might certainly be curious about what happened then. I agree with you, that was so not a way to end a story. Let me tell you what happened then:

I went back to Tara with Scarlett and yes, she did feel better spending some time back home. The fresh air blushed back her cheeks, and furbished her dark hair. She even managed to laugh with that gorgeous laughter of her teens. She would go around trying to tame her wild nature and play with the children that formerly were nothing but mere decorations in her showy life. She tried desperately to learn and be a good mother but it was kind of too late for her to make acquaintance with her children, plus Ella was such an ugly girl and Wade a shy boy, two features Scarlett always hated the most. Still, she tried hard and did her best but I guess not everyone is fit to be a mother. God does have the sense of humor: He gave children to the worst mother ever and took with him too soon the best one. They say the good die young. I wonder what it means of me still being this old and alive…

No, Scarlett never won the heart of her children. They were longing for Uncle Rhett and somehow couldn’t forgive their mother for him being absent. No one ever told them anything, but I can assure you that there are things that you cannot hide from a child. Plus, the eyes never lie. Particularly Scarlett’s eyes who never manage to hide her feelings: The uncompromising eyes which have seen so much and are still ready to fight, the eyes that cannot stand any form of weakness.

Mama died a sweet November afternoon. But Scarlett still stood up defying her body to shed a single tear. I told you already and you do know that she is not of those who break. She bends.

Ashley sold the saw mills and went north, to New York, craving for a new start. Beau and Wade managed to get to Harvard. Ella married a distant relative and went to live in Charleston. Rhett travelled round the world as a treatment against its devastating love for Scarlett, still alive and yet so dead already.

Scarlett kept on taking an extremely good care of her appearance, more than she ever did even in her greatest moment of vanity: she would comb her silky dark hair twice a day, buy the latest robes and finest jewelries, protect her skin from sunlight and make up her entire face etc. I asked her once why she put up with all those efforts with the children, with her dress, with the noise of her laughter and other coquettish ways and she replied:

– For I should be ready for the day he will be coming back for good.

He never came back for good. A fresh afternoon in Dixie, she received a letter. She was widow for the third time. She did not cry, nor regret, she did not tear her clothes, break her necklace or anything, and her intransigent look did not fade away. She kept doing her things, genuinely dressed and made up, smiling around like a young lady, for she should be ready for the day she would meet him again and stand on his side forever. Until that day, she stood up. She was of those who bend but never break.

I must admit I somehow secretly admired her, how she ruled her world stubbornly, as if she was the only one worth taking care of. When she died, I carried my old body all the way north to witness with my own eyes what was that thing they called freedom, that thing that took my son away. I will not say anything on my journey; it is none of your business and somehow not even important.

Just someday, I would sit in my daughter’s tiny kitchen and stare at the window watching the cherry blossoms and dreaming of magnolia flowers. Those days I would turn my old tired face to my bored grandchildren silently packed in the small room and ask them:

Do you want to hear the story of the O’hara?

They would most often quickly say « yes », glad to get some entertainment in this miniscule apartment, in this free city designed for adults and hard work and where children could not just be children.

I would then sit back on my daughter’s creaking wooden chair and smile at the old time: « You know, folks; Grandma has been through a lot of stuff. I have lived a damn hectic life but one that lived a crazier life than mine is for sure the Irish Rose of Georgia. Her name was Scarlett O’Hara and she was in love with Captain Rhett…But before I start, let me tell you a little story I like so you can understand…I heard it once from Mister Ashley Wilkes, my former owner’s only son…before I was sold to the O’hara who believed I was the worst slave ever, me acting as though I was free already…Yes, back then we had owners and had to always humbly say « Yes, sir » for this, « yes, sir » for that…Yes, back then before the war that crushed Dixie, when they did not know how lucky they were…He told me this: « There is a say that there was a time when roses were all white and nightingales could not sing…« 

 

 

 

Gone with the wind

I am Scarlett the coldhearted blind lady

Who was in love with Rhett deeply

But chose to clung onto her childish dream

Of a nonsensical love with happily wed Ashley

I shut my eyes and walked passed happiness

Running pitifully after impossible, nothing less

Nurturing nothing but hatred and sadness

Sowing and reaping hard time and madness

I am Scarlett, who stood up to adversity

Who stood up to war and death

Who stood up to a meaningless love

Who stood up to all the thorns

Who stood up to conventions

Who stood up to a devastating passion.

Soon, I will be dead

I foresee a showy death

As I will still be me,

Who only exist to live a golden life

And deserve to dash off with a lot of style

Thus, if children ever need to recall something,

Let it be that, I am Scarlet, the one and only

That I lived the war and made a difference

That I deserve to have my name remembered

When years will be gone

We’ll be forgotten

But if ever you come to Georgia

Don’t you get distracted by the blooming magnolias

Feel the wind blowing in your hair

And the petals of roses flying in the air

And hear me say: I have been there

I am Scarlett, the everlasting Scarlett

The beautiful rose, that so belongs to Rhett

I am Scarlett

SCARLETT O’HARA!

Publié dans African litterature and so on, English Version | Tagué , , , , , , , , , , , | 3 commentaires

Soundtrack

This is me, the teen who lives in Cameroon. I am studying hard, so one day I can escape from this hateful place and settle abroad. So one day, I can sing the soundtrack my cousin sang to me last December when he came back for the holiday season:

I am Cameroonian and I am proud. I am Cameroonian and I say it loud and proud.

This is me, I grew up and I now live abroad. I am part of the Diaspora, got here and there some chunks of knowledge. From time to time, I write down and expose my brilliant thoughts to my brilliant friends who, lucky them, have learnt how to read too. We talk casually about war and how we are ready to shed blood to protect our beloved country. During free time, we browse Cameroonian websites and shake our heads half upset, half lenient on how crazy our country is. I, myself like roasted fish and I feel that Ndole dish is the best. But above all, I now endorse the soundtrack:

I am Cameroonian and I am proud. I am Cameroonian and I say it loud and proud.

This is me, on my way home to my beloved country for vacation. December is the month I love most as after all the hardships of the year, I can finally head back home. I am at the airport, wearing brand new clothes. Leather is a better protection against humidity especially when branded Dolce & Gabbana. I have my fake diamond earrings on the left side and the counterfeit glasses to protect from the scorching sun. I smile brightly though I just can’t stand how hot the country has become. I have my earphones around my neck and the soundtrack flows:

I am Cameroonian and I am proud. I am Cameroonian and I say it loud and proud.

Tonight, I will be going to the club. I poured so much cash to my relatives during the day that I now deserve to do something for me, something very Cameroonian, in this Cameroon I love: I will be eating roasted fish before I head to the club. I will pop champagnes and blame it on the alcohol, dance all my love for Cameroon on what has become my favorite soundtrack:

I am Cameroonian and I am proud. I am Cameroonian and I say it loud and proud.

Tomorrow morning I will wake up late, and wonder how tough the mosquitoes have become, drive my way to the bakery and buy myself doughnuts to go with the yoghurt. Orphans wandering about the potholed streets will bother me and depending on my mood, I might give them a little coin. I still believe they would be better off at school or at work. I am pretty sure a lot of them have only got themselves to blame and I feel sorry for those of them who are just victims of the system. When the sun will set again, before I go out and enjoy what I love best about Cameroon, I wish that from their stony beds in the cemetery they could still listen to me singing, listen and grow mature, listen and wish to be me, so they can someday repeat in choir the soundtrack:

I am Cameroonian and I am proud. I am Cameroonian and I say it loud and proud.

Of course, I cannot leave the place without dropping by the village. I will see my grandparents and all the elders who will still be alive. I will tell them how much I miss this place and wish to end up just like them: living peacefully by the countryside after a bright Cameroonian life; lying on my rocking chair, a pipe in the mouth, singing how proud I am of Cameroon.

The farther I go, the more I love the country. I love the club, I love the food, I love the hypocrisy of a people who mime Gandhi’s monkeys their whole lives long, and who only know how to love whenever need be. I love the beers, I love the sun, I love the inspired design of the ugly houses. I love the drunken fathers in the dawn and the scared dogs in the streets and the children playing truant to gamble. I love the lousy roads and all the even lousier projects. I love the jungle justice and this place where man are wolves for one another, the jungle designed for adults and where children can not just be children.

I love the motorbikes and all the road accidents, the freedom of a country where one cannot say exactly what he means. I love the fact that there are loads of foreign companies and I love the great job of our football team. I love the bored and aggressive waiters in the restaurant, and my aunts’ poker faces surrounding me with blessings. They are the only ones to pretend they believe that story of mine saying that I am great.

But among all, I love the fact that I am able to be someone. I have a scene and the right to perform, as an honorable member of the Diaspora. Among all I have a public I will never have anywhere else in the world. I stand firm on stage, grab the microphone and sing my soundtrack to people craving to be me:

I am Cameroonian and I am proud. I am Cameroonian and I say it loud and proud.

Tomorrow, when I will wake up I will be somewhere far away. I will be back in that secure country which is not home but where I can work, express myself and offer a future to my growing children. I will go to the country I hate but will not leave for all the tea in China. I will grab a chair, sit back in my tiny kitchen and gather my children and nephews around me. I will un-tie one or two Bobolo leaves, enough to reminish but not too much to become expensive. I will look at them, those children for which I am not paying school, those children for which I receive Euros every single year, those children I can cure for free whenever, those children who shall not fear their shadows and might learn how to raise their heads up high as long as I provide some basis for their education. I shall look at them and sing a soundtrack; the soundtrack about an old man sitting near the fire and telling stories to little children like them. An old man I have never met; the soundtrack of children obeying their parents, eager to learn and to help. Children I have never seen; the soundtrack of people usually giving to people, sharing without reservation. People I have never encountered. The soundtrack of a great football team playing games I have never watched.

A Cameroon I have never known.

And although this Cameroon I love is a Cameroon I have never experienced (but images from that Cameroon my cousin from abroad and my parents sung to me back then when I was a child, when the soundtrack may have made some senses, when there remained things to be proud of in Cameroon – or were they also just repeating the song from their own parents and cousins from abroad? – ); although this Cameroon I sing and praise is just different from the Cameroon I actually know, I am still going to sing blindly and yet wholeheartedly, perhaps just out of habits. I will sing it loud, a tear at the corner of my eye, the heart filled with the saudade brought by the taste of the fried plantains I will be eating; I will sing to my children and nephews the soundtrack that makes no sense to me but that I never doubt ever since I embraced it; proudly sing my so called love for my country.

And maybe the day will come, – even in case Cameroon stays the Cameroon it currently is – , when I shall hear my children, who never will set foot in Cameroon if not for the December clubbing season, whisper those words, that soundtrack we pass on from generations to generations without ever questioning whether it makes sense or not:

I am Cameroonian and I am proud. I am Cameroonian and I say it loud and proud.

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Will you judge yourself?

Let me introduce myself, I am you. I am young, I graduated from one of the best business school in the world and I have a job. And if you are not convinced I am you, let me tell you more about me. I am moved by poor countries distress but just like you I feel powerless. I feel weak and I feel guilty for being this lucky. However, at the same time, I am still deeply convinced that everything happening “there” is partly “their” own fault, why are they so retrograde? Don’t judge me, I talk knowingly. I was born there too. But, as you did too, I am here now, in a country which deserves me and my competence better, a developed country.

Don’t fool yourself; I know exactly what you are thinking. But wait… Nothing has ever been easy for me; I worked hard to be where I am now. Before coming here, I had already graduated; I was an engineer in a certain way. The kind of engineer you frequently see “there”, the paper-engineer, with merely a diploma and no job opportunity to develop any skill. Wait… or maybe was I a private university alumnus, working in an accounting firm but attracted by the Eldorado. You know, that elsewhere which is always better than your own place.

Once here, I struggled to pay my bills, to have a correct place to live in, to imitate perfectly the way people in here talk, to dress in a way that could distinguish me from the other people from “there”.  Why did I want to appear different? Because I have a diploma, I speak the developed-country’s language correctly, making sure i avoid any slang word from underground. I have never admitted it before, but you can read in my attitude, like I can read in yours, that I have some kind of superiority complex.

I love being here, even though I know I will never be treated as fair as I would have been in that country that was mine before. Laws here are conceived to make my life harder, to remind me how « fortunate » I am to be here. But I am used to it; I can definitely say that I gave up fighting for more; I stopped complaining and started enjoying – as they say-. I was afraid they pointed the finger at my difference.

I am possibly suffering from a new type of Stockholm syndrome. I finally understood their laws and I can now give, to anybody who wants to, thousands of reasons to justify them. And I can explain why I entirely agree with all those prejudices they are fuelling. Can anybody judge me for embracing the political correctness? Oh, sorry! I meant: Can anybody judge you for that?

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Every single human being has a story to tell, a story that can make a difference, and exhilarate. Stories of life are like rays of light that have the strength to rise and hide shadows, guide and save souls.

This is the special lives of exceptional everyday people whose quest for dignity and greatness can make a better day for those in search of inspiration. We are all little soldiers. We are all going to fall. But let us keep some of us alive forever, hoping that someday someone somewhere may read these words and feel like being granted wings to fly. Mandela once said, quoting poet Marianne Williamson: « We are powerful beyond measure… It is not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. »

Niko wa ajabu. I am exceptional.

You too.

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She is from Cambodgia

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Save the Gi Joe

I am Joe. I am American. I am 23 and I served in the army when I was younger. Indeed, here in the US, I had no rights to drink or club, not even to rent a car, two years ago. But I already had the right to kill. That was my duty as an American citizen. On behalf of America. For the Sake of America.

I am 23 and yet my teen-adult eyes have already witnessed more horrors than the average human being. My ears have heard more than they should have: Bombs, Mines, Plots, the noise of weapons. And I felt more fear and sorrow, more unpleasant smells than you will ever experience in your entire life, the odor of the flesh, the stink of the balls.

I went to Iraq. Deliberately. At least, somehow, let’s just say I did not have much of a choice. Better leave with faith and happiness. Of course, I wanted to serve my country, protect my dear star-spangled-banner against the invaders, the terrorists who dared to try us. But also, at 18, going to war was the best opportunity that the United States of America, the land of promises and glory, of endless possibilities and achievements, offered me. Here in America, a position in the army is what the have-nots can most crave for if planning on eating or longing for a brighter tomorrow. If only I could come back alive from that hell of a place, they promised me a future, which though not perfect, could definitely be worth a try; promised me that I could jump in the train of the American Dream which somehow left me on the docks when I came to this world. As if I ever chose to be born poor.

Not everyone can live the American dream and yet, we all start off dreaming of the Good life, no, not the good life, the Perfect one…Here, Social Security means nothing; help is peanut. A poor and sick someone will probably soon turn into a poor and dead someone. The absurdity of the system wants that, only those who do not need any aid will gather all the privileges. Who really does care about pregnant women, the disabled, the poor, and all the have-nots, those who have nothing and are nothing? Indigence is a crime, indeed.

I enrolled in the army out of love, conviction and faith in the highest institutions of my country, but also to keep on believing in my tomorrows.

In Iraq, I saw what hell looked like. My comrades and I participated actively in the going down to hell. We captured, jailed, tortured and so on. We committed in total impunity more crimes than you would ever imagine.

I do acknowledge my sins.

I will not go into much details. I am not trying to apologize. Nor am I trying to erase anything. What is done is done already. There is no need crying on spilled milk. No need to regret. Some day. Maybe.

It is just…meanwhile, I see them. I see all the faces back then and I know what I did and did not refrain others from doing. I know what we did and I cannot do anything to chase the images, the songs and the faces away, nor the smell.

We acted under a great commandment’s orders, as the armed force of a punitive operation against a people which in reality never did any wrong to us, or not as much as we were raised to believe. The orders were strict. A word and we would head down the street, trying to find the unlucky ones: disappearing people, organizing the perfect crime; that was our job. No one ever asked us to think things up. To judge. No one ever ask us whether what we were doing was wrong or right. And yet, we knew deep inside, I knew deep inside, the shit I was doing was completely wrong. Still, it was way easier to just knock it off. The Army has always been gifted with silence anyway. To shut the fuck off is not that complicated. All you need is to get the lower lip, stick it with the upper one and you will witness the miracle: Not a single sound comes out.

Still, as a human being, it was always painful. Not that much from time to time though. There, despite my 18 springs, I could drink as much I as wanted, or even more. Therefore, I could often manage to forget.

What I did was wrong. Now I know, but I guess I always knew. Today, now that I am trying to tidy up behind, I can acknowledge it to myself. It hurts though. It hurts so much to admit that at 18, I have already committed more crimes than a retired person.

They weren’t terrorists in Iraq as we were told. A part of those we hurt was civilians, loving wives, caring husbands, malicious kids, happy families that is. I see their faces. Every single day. They appear in my head, stare at me, and I can’t say anything to them. Another part consisted of resistant fighters, patriots. Admirable people who chose to protect the integrity and the sovereignty of their country till death. After all, we were the invaders. We were the one crossing oceans to mess up a country for the sake of reinventing the wheel there. We came to destroy families, sack the basis of development and conquer the land.

Basically, you can try and represent the world as a scale: At the very top, the United States are throwing kicks around to other countries to prevent them from climbing up to the top. As powerful kingdoms always did. And yet, history advocates for the end of great empires: The fall of Roma, The conquest of Egypt and the decline of the Ottoman Empire.

Today I know, and I guess I always knew that you don’t call terrorist someone who fights back when he is under attack. You just don’t call terrorist someone who protects his family and country with its own life. Neither do you call Hero, criminal crossing oceans to invade a country out of deceptive reasons.

No, we were not heroes. No. GI are not heroes. No. America is not fighting under God, to establish peace, liberty, democracy and love on earth. America does not give a damn shit about the widow and the orphans. America does not care at all about African dictators, Arab terrorists, Castro’s moods or Gadhafi’s ultimate actions. Nor does she care about the dead of the twin towers. Don’t get me wrong though. America is highly shocked and revolted, upset about the 9/11 terrorist attacks (perfect timing by the way to justify the war in Iraq). Still, it is not as if America was not fill with more than 300 million people. You lose some, you win even more. There are plenty more fish in the sea.

No. We are liars and criminals, and we murder to safeguard our supremacy till the very end, to guarantee the timelessness of our ideology.

No. We went to Iraq for oil and we ain’t going anywhere until we get things squared away. For the same strategic and energetic reasons, we will stay in Afghanistan while setting our feet in Iran (We will surely find a politically correct incentive for that), and since we are at it, why not in North Korea, this country filled with potential terrorists.

We are doing all this for the sake of the world population, for the sake of the American population, to protect the Dream, to have the gamblers keep on ruining themselves in Vegas, the rich spending their holidays in St Tropez, the ambitious walking on Wall Street, and the artists looking for their stars in the city of the angels. We are doing this for the American citizen. To preserve his standard of living, otherwise, America would have ceased being America a long time ago. As, to speak the truth, the American economy is like a seaman apprentice on a raft a rough sea night.

Yes. We are in-deficit.

Yes. The war which was supposed to be worth 50 billion dollars is 10 times costlier now. Luckily, we have the Chinese, they pay the difference, until we get our dear return on investment.

Yes. 500 billion dollars. That is peanut compared to what we expect to win in the gulf. Nothing indeed.

We have the Caspian Sea oil and gas reserves in sight. 40% of the world gas reserves, 15% of oil. This time, the pros we are managed to con other powerful countries like Russia and control the sea. All it takes now is to bring back the godsend to the US. The aim is to transport all of it from the Caspian sea to the American harbor on the Pakistani Coasts. The challenge is that we have to cross the Turkmenistan, Afghanistan and Pakistan. Therefore, we better get along with those countries. That is what we have always been trying hard to do. As in the Turkmenistan they were playing smart, we formed the Afghans Taliban to bring in line those jokers and build our pipeline in a secure area. They did work hard those weirdoes.  There was no love in this world stronger than the one that united us with them. Except that, at the very last moment, before the honeymoon and all the rest, a cunning someone answering to the famous name of Osama made fools out of us. He played people off against us. Eventually, we lost the pipeline and a Chinese company took over. Bullshit indeed, I am telling you. Yesterday friends are today’s enemies.

Hence our decision to invade Afghanistan and to start, we changed colors. Yes. We sponsored the Turkmenistan’s dead losses – that we were still massacring yesterday under our local label «Taliban» – so they can bring Afghanistan down to hell and kick in the teeth of those Taliban to whom we gave everything back then and still dared to try us. Yesterday’s enemies are today’s friends. Human beings seem to have short memories.

When all this will be done, when we will have installed governments good as it should be – who cares whether they are democratic or not, being pro-American is the point – around the Caspian Sea, we will then be able to snap up the modest sum of a few thousands billion dollars, all taxes included. It is the least we could do. We have already spent so much, lost so many men and women that we way deserve our damn return on investment.

With all the money we will cash, we will build golf courses in the desert, and tan during winter. We will also keep on, for good measure, investing some billion each year to maintain our thousands of military bases round the world, thus our dear soldiers, our weekend heroes.  Just in Iraq, we did have a hundred thousand soldiers, plus, another hundred thousand linked to private firm like Blackwater. A hundred thousand mercenaries. In the pay of the American government.

Now, let me remind you that every single American have the right to hold a firearm as long as he can shave, no matter if he still can’t dance in the club or drink alcohol. If we suppose that guns are sold like hot cakes, we can conclude with no fear of getting it all wrong that we have around dozens of millions of potential soldiers. That makes a lot of people to take care of. That means big money to be found. The 20% of our oil we get in the Gulf of Guinea at fair price is definitely not enough. We need to find money somewhere else.  Nor are our exports sufficient, despite the fall of our currency. Actually, we, buy more than we sell. The balance is therefore negative. Only the trade of weapons – hence the other need to create/maintain conflicts throughout the world – tries, without a huge success to fill the deficit: Fuck Russian cheap shit AK-47; purchase M-16. A monkey would know how to use it. You will always hit the bull’s eye.

In 20 years from now, we will still be in Iraq, we will be in Afghanistan, and we will be messing with Iran. We will be there until we dry up the Caspian Sea, and drink oil to the dregs. Then, we will be the one and only left with reserves. After all, we do have one of the biggest natural reserves, contrarily to what people thinks. And we stock others’ oil.

Someday, soon, very soon indeed, all this will come back and bite us in the ass. Despite our effort, our tremendous efforts, the deficit will deepen. Unrelentingly. We will find ourselves short of cash. Flat broke. Incapable of maintaining our military bases, we will be forced to shut them one after another. Until the day we will switch out the last lights. Then America, The great military America under God, America who flies on top of all nations, incredible America will appear in its entire splendor: A giant with feet of clay.

Someday, despite the IMF and WB’s little schemes – world extension of the American authority – to keep developing countries drowning through questionable methods, despite all the oil in stock and turned into notes, in spite of all, America will fall. I am letting you guess who will be standing.

Americans are completely delusional. They still believe in it. They still believe in the all-mightiness of their government. They still believe they are under God, vest in a noble ideal, superior, divine. They still believe they are the greatest. They still believe that America is with no doubt the best place to live on earth. They believe the rest of the world envy America. And that, those hatreds against us are just proofs of baseless jealousy. And yet, they are just not aware. They are not the one to blame. The media refrains them from opening the eyes: A good American should be watching football or baseball games. It is way more fun. America is Awesome. It is the best country in the whole solar system. How come you can’t figure this out? We elected an African-American for president! An African-American Christian with African and Muslim origins who grew up among the Indonesian and married an African-American, the descendent of a slave. Would he have had some Latino, Cherokee and Chinese blood, it would have been even better, the American dream in its purest expression.

The waking up will be a nightmare.

I am saying this and it hurts. It hurts to know all the things we did abroad and it hurts even more to foresee the storm that is patiently waiting for us ahead. We will have to take responsibility for our actions. It is a matter of years.

But before, this country will explode. There will be a revolution. An internal revolution before it is too late for us to be saved. Because I am not the only one to witness and to silently suffer. There are people like me, here, in America. They are here and they seem not to do much but keep quiet. And yet, someday, soon, very soon, sooner than you think, they will take back the control on our country. I want to be part of this war. I will be part of this war.

Oh, we won’t fight with kalachnikov – Sorry, I meant M-16 since we have to boost America’s economy. We will instead form an elite corps made up of people who will have the knowledge. An army of brilliant and capable people, of sound minds as well. And to the bullshit by DC, we will oppose the implacable logic of those who learnt and are still willing to learn.

Today, I am 23. Almost still a teenager, would you say. I escaped from hell by God’s grace. I escaped and I ain’t ever going back. Even for all the tea in China. Even if I am called deserter and sentenced, even if they call me anti-American. As far as I am concerned, there is nothing more anti-American than participating to those nonsensical wars which are softly and certainly killing us. I want to be a true American and let America be America again. By fighting against America’s real enemy. He is here. So close. In this country. He is hitting us from the inside and we are letting him go with it. I want to be a great American citizen and defend my country against the political menace. For the sake of my beloved country. For America to have a future. For America to be America again.

Today, thanks to the war in Iraq though, I can benefit from the welfare and go to university with my scholarship. I will graduate in international relations which includes historic classes on peoples and cultures. I am attentive in class; I get along well with my professors, like with that Nigerian who teaches me on Africa, though I am specializing in the Near and Middle East. Whatever can be known is good to be known, for knowledge is a weapon.

As for you, who are coming on holiday to America, I wish you could have fun like crazy and that you find here what you have been longing for: the dream. Go in the desert, in the Nevada, and gamble, drink, smoke weeds, club and have sex until you can’t handle it anymore; laze in the Californian sun. You will never find beaches this amazing. Go to Washington, the White House is hosting the most obvious face of the «American dream». Don’t forget New York, you, who are dreaming about power and action. I wish you good luck. God bless you. God bless America.

An attempt to reconstruct a conversation with a former GI. His eyes were just too sad and his humour too wry for a 23-year-old baby-face guy.

God bless you, Joe. I hope we will meet one day. And that day, I hope those so cute and dark baby eyes of yours, could laugh with joy.

09/28/09 – midnight

Denny’s

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